Scoring sensation Joseph Girard visits father’s high school gym

Ben Rhodes of Amsterdam drives to the basket next to Joseph Girard III of Glens Falls Tuesday, December 15, 2015. (PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER)Ben Rhodes of Amsterdam drives to the basket next to Joseph Girard III of Glens Falls Tuesday, December 15, 2015. (PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

CLIFTON PARK — Joseph Girard III has a handle on how his father Joe Girard Jr.’s lone year went playing high school hoops at Shenendehowa.

“I’ve heard he lit it up there,” said Joseph Girard, a quick laugh punctuating his words.

In his first chance to play a varsity game at his father’s alma mater, the son did the same. In leading Glens Falls to a 73-59 win against Stillwater in the Section II Class B quarterfinals at Shenendehowa, Joseph Girard poured in 39 points and made all 19 of his free throws in a Feb. 19 game.

“This is very neat for us,” dad Joe Girard had said before the game. “We’re both very excited, and hopefully he has success there.”

As a youngster, Joseph Girard had played extensively with a Clifton Park-based AAU team and had experience playing in the Shenendehowa gymnasium from those years. The game against Stillwater, though, was his first played at his father’s alma mater at the varsity level.

Joseph Girard III of Glens Falls completes a 3 point shot against Amsterdam Tuesday, December 15, 2015. (PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER)

Joseph Girard III of Glens Falls completes a 3 point shot against Amsterdam Tuesday, December 15, 2015. (PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER)

“So [for him] to go out on a real stage there and play a real game will be different,” Joe Girard said. “It’ll be a little weird [for me] to not have the green and white there, but hopefully the red and black do well.”

Chances were pretty good that Joseph Girard was going to light up the scoreboard. It’s what he’s done all season. The freshman is averaging 33.2 points per game for Glens Falls and has scored 40 or more points on six separate occasions this season. His high game was a 52-point effort against Amsterdam back in December, a couple weeks after he’d made 10 3-pointers in a game against Mekeel Christian Academy. Recently, the second-year varsity player passed the 1,000-point mark for his career.

That a Girard is scoring loads of points is nothing new in Section II basketball. Joe Girard, 43, is fifth on the section’s all-time scoring list with 2,179 points, with the final 478 of those points coming while playing for Shenendehowa in the 1989-90 season.

Joe Girard — who still holds the Plainsmen’s record for most 3-pointers in a single season with 106 — said he only has fond memories of his year playing at Shenendehowa. He spent it teaming in the backcourt with Todd Duval — second all-time in assists for the Plainsmen with 368 — and learning from head coach Jim Zullo.

“A legend,” Joe Girard said of Zullo, who coached that 1989-90 team to a 23-1 record and a Section II Class A title.

Joe Girard had ended up at Shenendehowa after his original high school, Glens Falls’ St. Mary’s, had closed due to declining enrollment. Playing his senior year at the city’s public school, he said, would have been tough after so many years spent viewing the Indians as rivals.

Of course, Glens Falls is now the school he roots for the hardest.

“And, we’re [19-3] this year,” he said. “There’s obviously a great formula going.”

His son has been the unquestioned star for Glens Falls, this season’s Foothills Council champions. But his gaudy points totals, Joseph Girard said, are not what he’s about on the court.

“I really love winning, and I hate losing more than I like winning — and I think that’s a good thing,” said Joseph Girard, who scored 44 points in Glens Falls’ first-round postseason game Tuesday against Catskill. “We have a lot of winners on this team.”

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.